Rush drummer/lyricist Neil / FRI 3-25-11 / Blue-backed Dr. Seuss character / One-named rock star 1990s-2000s / Wild flowers in Sara Teasdale poem
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Tymes are an American soul vocal group, who enjoyed equal success in the United Kingdom as their homeland. They share the distinction of being one of the few acts to have one and only one chart-topper in both the U.S. and UK with different titles [...] Their song "So Much in Love" was elected to the Songs of the Century in 2001. In 2005 The Tymes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. As of 2006[update], they are still performing, with three of the original five group members; they appeared on the PBS special, My Music: Love Songs of the 50s and 60s. (wikipedia)
Very, very slow start for me. Couldn't get a foothold anywhere. Had a *very* tentative ARE WE in the NW (4D: "___ ready?"), a somewhat less tentative but still not rock solid ORECK in the SW (37A: Hoover rival), and not much else. Kept circling the grid, looking at short stuff, trying to get in, when I finally made some headway in the unlikeliest of places: ILA (42A: Pier grp.). I can barely tell ILA apart from ILO, and the only reason I know either is because of crosswords, but for some reason, that initialism felt Right, and I plunked LEANER (43D: "Almost" in horseshoes) and I'M DONE (42D: "All finished!") down shortly thereafter. Used those and gimmes LANG (52D: Filmmaker Fritz) and ATEE (53D: Exactly, after "to") to wrangle the SE, and I was off, building continuously (though sometimes slowly) on what I had until I finished the puzzle.
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Lots of this stuff ended up falling into my wheelhouse (ironic, given the Ugly start I had): ALEPPO (39D: Largest city in Syria) is in "Othello" and a Nabokov short story whose title cites "Othello" ("That in ALEPPO Once..."). GEN X'ER ... well, I am one (41D: Millennial's parent). That was easy. NSF I know from having academic scientist friends (36D: Univ. research grantor). Neil PEART (31A: Rush drummer/lyricist Neil) ... well, see GEN X'ER, above. That guy was legendary, esp. among a certain kind of boy in the 80s (not me, but kids I knew, for sure). I quite enjoy BECK (30D: One-named rock star of the 1990s-2000s). As a onetime medievalist, I'm amused by the presence of JOUSTS at a "Renaissance" fair (8A: Renaissance fair sights). TREF is one of my most memorable of all crossword words (22A: Not allowed on certain diets), as I thought I had made it up during my first tournament puzzle experience—come to find out, it's a very common word in some sets (not to this California GEN X'ER, that's for sure). With the exception of ECK (45A: Opponent of Luther during the Protestant Reformation), PEART, and TYMES, this puzzle had little in the way obscurities, getting all its difficulty from rough cluing (that ION clue, yikes—25A: ___ drive (engine in "Star Wars")). Hard for me to dislike a puzzle with TIME WARP (12D: Dance in which "you bring your knees in tight"), ERIC IDLE (33D: "And Now for Something Completely Different" co-star) and STEAMY SLEAZE (18A: R-rated, maybe + 56A: Schlock). All in all, a suitably tough and entertaining romp from Mr. Nothnagel (constructor of the Finals puzzle at this year's ACPT)
- 59A: Where some jets originate (GEYSERS) — this was *not* one of yesterday's options!
- 30A: She "espied their tails side by side / All hung on a tree to dry" (BO-PEEP) — not a part of the rhyme I know, but I had that terminal "P" and figured it out almost immediately by context.
- 55A: Onetime General Motors spokesman (PAT BOONE) — Had forgotten or else never knew this.
- 10D: Uintah and Ouray Reservation tribe (UTES) — UINTA mts. (a must-know bit of crossword fill) are in Utah, so ... that was a clue, though it doesn't take much prodding for a solver to get from nothing to UTES. Tribe in four = UTES or OTOS / OTOE and then a host of other less common possibilities like, say, CREE.
- 13D: Those involved in cutting class at school? (STYLISTS) — well this one gave me fits. Had ST--ISTS and still needed help from the crosses (another beanball of a clue at 20A: Digs for peanuts? => HOSTEL).
- 15D: Blue-backed Dr. Seuss character (YERTLE) — the Turtle. I was at a loss until eventually I had the -TLE. Not on heavy rotation when I was a child. (Dr. Seuss Dictionary and "Green Eggs and Ham" and "One Fish, Two Fish" were the Seuss books of my childhood)
- "Wild" flowers in a Sara Teasdale poem (ASTERS) — not a poem I know. A very tough ASTERS clue (though as with UTES, it's not hard for a constant solver to get to ASTERS with minimal clue prodding: "Flower ... starts with "A" ... sure."
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P.S. nice (loooong) write-up of the ACPT over at PuzzleGirl's "L.A. Crossword Confidential"